From My Notebook: Planning #sol19

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

Notebook Saturdays

Through my work as a literacy coach,  I have teachers that I meet and collaborate with throughout the week.  Usually these meetings are at 7:30 a.m. on a scheduled day of the week. I  meet with each teacher or team for 1/2 hour keeping notes of what we are working on.  Our school is an UOS of Study school following the work of Lucy Calkins and colleagues in this our first year of full implementation.  Most of our meetings are in their classrooms. Some teachers will come with questions, sometimes we plan out what we will work on the next week, sometimes I have a teaching technique or skill  I’ve noticed or a suggestion. I keep a journal entry of each meeting to keep me thinking. I am thankful to Tammy Mulligan, Teachers for Teachers, for assisting me in working on offering a menu of ideas during this coaching time.  This is still after years a work in progress.

From My Notebook:  Planning #sol19

IMG_3832I’m torn this week from my notebook to the work we’ve noticed in the classroom.  In the second bend of baby literary essay, we noticed that the students are adopting the language and structure of the essay.  Their evidence is grounded in text and they are growing a small theory.  The place we see them struggle a little is matching their evidence to their theory.  Letting them sail off on Thursday, choosing their own picture book, their own theory, making their own plans,  let us notice what’s up with their independent writing.

We meet to hash it out.  She has the writing notebooks piled on her table, but when she speaks first it’s about the state test.

I went through the last five years of questions for the test, she says.  We haven’t done character comparisons,  journal entries, and… there’s poetry.  They also have perspective, cross text synthesis, and predictions.  

I pause letting her words settle around us.  I’m working on that… the pause.  It is a lot and time is short.

Their work is better than we thought, she says.  As we sift through, we notice bright spots.  This one has strong evidence.  This one is getting the idea of connection story.  This one had a plan.  This one has the language down.  On we go.  I reflect that as a team, we’ve gotten so much better at the quick glance, read, determine teaching points.  Only a few were struggling that day.

She brings out a scrap of paper from her teacher notebook.  We have a box for students to put concerns she says.  This one was in it yesterday.  I don’t like how the teachers never call on me when I have a good idea,  it begins.  We pause and discuss.  Using the turn and talk gives students all a chance to say their ideas in the air, but clearly this friends still is craving the teacher’s attention or the spotlight.  We reflect on our own balance.  Who are we asking to share?  We think we are equitable.  We vow to keep an eye on it next week.

Back to the work we met to do.  We work through the next week, weaving in books and techniques.  His name remains on the top of the page.

 

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6/31 Paczki Day #sol19

For the month of March, I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.  

6/31  Paczki Day #sol19

March 5, 2019

IMG_3568Paczki Day came into my life in about 1990.  While an administrator, a teacher brought in these amazing jelly doughnuts on Shrove Tuesday.  I apologize now to all Paczki aficionados particularly in my own family.  I now know that Paczki and jelly doughnuts ARE NOT THE SAME THING.

What is a Paczki?

So… some back story.  I am a Midwesterner.  I grew up in Southern Illinois, moved to central Illinois, northernish Indiana, and then to a Chicago suburb in the mid-eighties.  Legend has it that Chicago has more Polish citizens than Warsaw.  This may or may not be apocryphal.  However, Shrove Tuesday, or the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins is a deeply seated tradition in many communities.  The idea is to rid your household of fats and sugars before lenten obligations begin.

Back to the story… after that introduction in 1990-something,  Paczkis on Paczki Day became a thing in our family.  We searched out excellent Paczki we had heard of and stuck to generic grocery store Paczki when we didn’t have a lead.  Regardless,  there were Paczki EVERY SINGLE Paczki Day at the Kennedy’s.  (not a Polish family)  It helps that all of us were doughnut fans and jelly doughnut fans.  I will say as reference that up the sugar and fat content of a jelly doughnut and you have a Paczki.   So Paczki are a Kennedy family tradition.

Then most of us moved to the east coast…  There really weren’t any Paczki or least they weren’t at every grocery store and corner market on Shrove Tuesday.  So as many of our midwestern family traditions, we let one more tradition fall by the wayside.  Enter 2014 or so,  our oldest son, a hold out in the midwest, dropped to stay with us for a few months in January and stayed through… Paczki Day.

As was typical in our old lives, days before Paczki Day, he began to talk about getting the Paczki.  Bob and I were gentle, but looked him in the eye and said,  don’t think there are any Paczki here.  That’s a Chicago thing, bud.  He, being him, would not be deterred.  Using his twenty-something google skills, he found a bakery on the Southside of Boston that was Polish and made Paczkis.  He got up early on that Tuesday, drove into the city, found the very small bakery, had a rousing chat with the baker, and returned home with most of the Paczki he purchased.  This was no small feat.  Finding places in unfamiliar or familiar Boston can be amazingly surprisingly difficult.  That’s our P. though,  he would not be stopped.

So that year we had Paczki.

Every year, P. admonishes us for not driving to the city and getting the Paczki.  It seems like such an effort for a… jelly doughnut.  He is disgusted by our lack of spirit.

Last year, we accidentally came upon a Polish bakery in Salem, Massachusetts in fall when we were visiting the Peabody-Essex Museum.  We were thrilled about Paczki and bought a half a dozen.  The young women behind the counter I am certain thought we were crazy.  It was a wonderful treat, but not quite the same six month before the holiday.

I looked up a recipe this year and was poised to attempt my own Paczki, but then… last week I heard a commercial on the radio that a local(ish) grocery store had Paczki!  The search started anew.  I looked up where the groceries were, 10-15 miles away from our house.  Maybe not… Then Bob called a local store, part of a New York grocery chain.  Sure enough they were making Paczki that very morning for the first time.

We drove to the store, waited in line, ordered custom Paczki (raspberry filling), waited for them, and this morning, Paczki are waiting for their holiday on my kitchen counter. Tradition lives!

When I told my oldest son about our adventures, he commented drolly,  you should have gone to that nice baker in Southie, she makes 700 Paczki a day…

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The Voices in My Head #sol18

main-qimg-7a46ec5dc79bcac79744edd8eaecf8f0-c  The Voices in My Head  #sol18

May 1, 2018

I have a lot of great mentors.  Some of them have never met me.   I walk among giants, but occasionally those giants are on a podcast, a tweet, or in a book.  Those giants have changed everything about the way I approach education, coach, interactive with students, conferring, and see myself as an educator.   Here are some of my favorite voices.

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The Heinemann Podcast accompanies me to work each morning and sometime home as well.   I listen to mine on a podcast app.  This podcast is a great way to try out professional texts and kick the tires before you buy.
static1.squarespace.jpgColby Sharp  is how I want to blog when I grow up.  Colby’s quick patter and teacher heart can direct you to your next read aloud.   Just looking around his room in the videos makes me smile.  An amazing advocate for kids and books,  follow him on twitter and youtube.

 

 

 

In addition,  The Nerdy Bookcast,  The Children’s Book Podcast, The Yarn.
Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 5.28.08 PM.pngTwo Writing Teachers have changed the way I teach, I coach, and write.  Ok,  maybe just my volume has improved. 🙂

So many blogs that I follow.  Tweets that I read.  Books that I read.  They all add up to wonderful mentors that encourage me, challenge me, and teach me.

Tom Newkirk says we only have to get 5% better each year.  By the end of our career, well, amazing things can happen.  Today,  I’m just going to try this one thing I read…

 

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Wonders of the Week #sol18

 Wonders of the Week

March 3, 2018

 

Monday-

Curriculum time-  Using the Study Group Protocol,  the teachers dug in to accountable talk.  Team run study all the way.  First we watched some videos of accountable talk,  consider the scope of our study,  read some, then planned some.

 

 

Giving ourselves accountability and visibility, we set goals for ourselves and the work we do with students.  Our EL coordinator created this wonderful and powerful display. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midweek,  treated to some first grade expert writing.  You can wear dresses everywhere,  even to the horse stables, but especially to a picnic.

Thursday,  talking book clubs and new unit of study during scheduled 7:30 am chat with a third grade teacher.  Planning together and then teaching in tandem strengthens our work.

Late week,  observed a lesson.  Side benefit enjoyed some kindergarteners retelling the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff using homemade props.

Today,  teared up at the tenacity of this third grade newcomer’s genius project presentation.  She taught me all about Pandas with a moments hesitation.  The third grade class also presented to their first grade buddies and their next door neighbors.  Learned about helicopters, tsunamis,  Spartan spears, parrots, allergies, and more.

Their poise, creativity, language skills, and enthusiasm are what learning can be at its best.

 

 

 
To round out the week,  was able to see teacher ideas at work.  Accountable talk in full swing.  Why did that bear and hare in Tops and Bottoms decide they wouldn’t work together anymore?

How did that work out for them?  Partners listen, ask questions, and form theories.  Engagement and energy sky high.  This is memorable learning in grade 2.

And these are just the moments I photographed.

 

Hope to see some of you this morning in New York at the reunion!

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 9.10.00 PM  Day 3 of 31 Slice of Life March Challenge.  Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for facilitating, encouraging, and sponsoring this challenge.  Read so many more slices and join in here.

Sunrises #sol18

IMG_0708Sunrises  #sol18

February 27, 2018

I’ve seen a lot of sunrises in my time but they are all still such a miracle.  I can never quite catch their beauty in my lens:  all the colors,  the gradual changes, the anticipation,  the hope.

That is how I feel today.,  just like that sunrise:  starting some gradual change, anticipating, and more than a little hopeful.

The team usually shifts a little after each round of assessments.  As a teaching and learning community, we see things closer, on the horizon, and maybe even in the past that focus our vision and cause us to correct our course.

For the last several years, my ‘course’ has most often brought me to the intermediate grades, but in this season,  I am heading to a primary classroom for the first time in a while. There will be new students for me to develop learning relationships , new challenges, and new discoveries.

I look forward to noticing with a new collaborator in a new setting.  I hope it will keep me fresh as a practitioner, a colleague, and a teacher.  New situations take time.  We adjust, we change, we learn.  Gradual is good.  Noticing elements, taking time, developing relationships to grow on. We are fortunate as teachers, students are almost always welcoming, open, and so honest.   I can’t wait to see all the colors of these new journeyers,  relish learning through their eyes, share joy.

So good luck to me.  May I continue to learn.  May I help others learn as well.   Today,  this morning,  I am full of anticipation, and hope… and joy.

rattlesnake footprints

raccoon tracksMay 10, 2017

Recently there was a news story about a child and his stepfather who were lost in a nearby woods.  When interviewed the child (around 8) said there weren’t any rattlesnakes or anything, but there were a lot of animals with feet.  

Isn’t that just like all of us children and adults,  we are looking for the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad and then right in front of us is something amazing and inspiring? In my conjecture,  I suppose either the child was frightened and then realizing there wasn’t anything that was going to immediately kill him, began to enjoy his surroundings noticing footprints or the adult senses fear explained that there weren’t any rattlesnakes and did he notice those raccoon tracks.

So,  in our classrooms who is doing the noticing?  Are we bringing the horses to water and waiting for them to drink?  Do we understand the gradual release? Are we keeping in our minds and in hearts… and in our words where we are trying to go?  Are we keeping ourselves open to the possibilities?  Are we always the ones who are driving the instruction forward or are some of those amazing possibilities coming from our students?

 

content driven literacy #sol17


IMG_6218“Without systematic attention to reading and writing in subjects like science and history, students will leave schools with an impoverished sense of what it means to use the tools of literacy for learning or even to reason within various disciplines.”  
Pearson, 2010

Brain Friendly Content Driven

March 29, 2017

I want to slip literacy, reading and writing, into content instruction the way spiralizers are slipping zucchini into my Italian cooking or perhaps the way I used to slip carrots into my meatloaf. With time is in short supply and content learning literacy is dense,  it’s critical  to slip parallel literacy in content teaching or content learning into literacy workshop.

When I first arrived at my K-4 school, I had much more experience in the primary grades.  In an effort to tie intervention to authentic work in grades 3-4 and provide support to struggling readers, I began to assist during content area instruction.  Initially,  I just shadowed the teacher and scaffolded the content literacy. Soon we began to collaborate on many different aspects of literacy in content area.

The most straight forward and the most difficult is providing rich text that is accessible to all students regardless of reading ability. Without too much detail, we have found much success with Newsela, which provides content at many reading levels.  We also use and save Scholastic News at many reading levels.  Often stories will appear in one grade level and be simplified in lower levels.  These are easily moved seamlessly between whole group, small group, and intervention. Wonderopolis is a daily and also searchable site for many ideas that student might research.  Try teaching them to use tags as described in Still Learning to Read.  I am also fascinated by the idea of creating a digital bin as demonstrated by Clare Landrigan here.  We continue to search out, share, and save content reading materials.

As with our informational reading,  the use of simple note taking organizers generated by students are  best.  We use box and bullets for main idea and details throughout grades 1-4 with gradients of detail.  Applying lessons we have learned about informational reading to content during other times of the day, scaffolding students to use techniques they have learned in reading workshop, frees up that working memory for content which many students are unfamiliar.  Using multimedia in primary sources, visual records,  and video assists students in accessing content and scaffolding vocabulary.

We began to explore ways for students to respond to content learning.  Inspired by the work of Beers and Probst in Reading Nonfiction  and Sunday Cummins’ Close Reading of Informational Text, we first tried paper and pencil tasks such as one of our favorites called Did You Know?  It’s a simple format based on the pages of this book,  Did You Know? We originally created the projects for our third grade study of the American Revolution.  This can be adapted to any science or social studies topic.  Here’s the simple sheet we created here.  We quickly moved with some students to google slides.  We like creating video presentations using QR codes to archive presentations.   These are also helpful for students to review content or share content with absent students.  We found these templates to be especially supportive for our more fragile learners.  Content area is a place where technology can be leveraged in a way to balance the accessibility of materials for all students.  Recently, we have begun experimenting with Seesaw as a digital portfolio tool with easy access for parents.

Remembering to keep the structure of how to read, of writing, and response to reading from workshop present in content instruction,  we can reduce cognitive overload for students and facilitate the access of content for all students.  Blurring the edges of content vs.  workshop can support student learning as well.  Reading aloud content connected texts, using historical fiction, informational books, and internet sources for small group work, and using the same nomenclature across all the parts of the day, strengthens students schema, capacity, and competency.

 

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thanks to Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis for first introducing me to content literacy.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for 10 years of the March Slice of Life Challenge.  This is day 28 of 31.  Access many, many wonderful blogs here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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